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Polling Peaceful in Tanzania

Panafrican News Agency, 29 October 2000

Dar es Salaam - Polling by over 10 million voters in presidential, legislative and local government elections in Tanzania Sunday, progressed smoothly and peacefully.

No major incidents have been reported from any of the country's 25 regions since the exercise began at 7 AM East African time (0400 GMT).

Rather, there were reports of anxious voters jamming polling stations an hour earlier than anticipated.

Voters started lining up at 6 AM East African time in Dar es Salaam.

And in Dar es Salaam, jostling crowds were asked to give priority to the aged and the handicapped.

The polling was expected to go on until 4 PM East African time.

A journalist based in the Lake Victoria town of Mwanza, Abubakar Karsan, also reported of a massive turnout in the area.

Similar responses were pouring in from the quasi-autonomous state of Zanzibar where the race for the island's presidency - between the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi and the opposition Civic United Front - is expected to be tight.

However, a source speaking via telephone from Zanzibar told PANA that there was a delay in the polling process at some stations where voting materials arrived late.

But the source indicated that turnout was impressive.

There was heavy presence of security forces at every polling station in Dar es Salaam, and sources in Mwanza and Zanzibar reported similar precautionary measures.

Voters on mainland Tanzania are casting ballots for the union president, members of parliament and local government while those in Zanzibar will cast a fourth ballot to choose a president for the semi-autonomous Island State.

Thirteen political parties including the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), National Convention for Construction and Reform (NCCR-Mageuzi), Union for Multi-party Democracy (UMD), Tanzania People's Party (TPP), the National League for Democracy (NRA), Tanzania Democratic Alliance (TADEA) and the Popular National Party (PONA) have fielded candidates for the various electoral posts.

Incumbent president Benjamin Mkapa, running for a second term, faces no formidable challenge from his three opponents, observers say.

He faces an opposition trio composed of John Cheyo of the United Democratic Party or UDP, Augustine Mrema of the TLP and Ibrahim Lipumba of the Civic United Front or CUF who also has the backing of the Chama Cha Maendeleo Na Demokrasia or Chadema.

Results of the elections are expected Tuesday, ahead of the inauguration of the president on Wednesday in Dar es Salaam, officials of the election commission said.